THE journey for the “History Girls” ended with a 4-0 loss to the Netherlands but the Republic of Ireland’s Under-19 girls returned to Dublin as heroines last week following their groundbreaking exploits in Norway.
In reaching the UEFA women’s Under-19 championships semi-finals, overcoming Sweden, England and Spain, the squad – which featured St Andrew’s and St Kilian’s DSD alumni Chloe Mustaki, who will play with the UCD Waves next season – surpassed most expectations and gave the sport a huge lift in the country.
The result against the Netherlands was the only defeat of the campaign for the Irish and FAI head honcho John Delaney passed on the congratulations of the entire Irish football community to manager Dave Connell and his squad.
“What Dave, his staff and his players have achieved over the past ten days has been absolutely fantastic and it is a testimony to the improvements that have been made across the board in women’s football in Ireland in the past eight years,” said Delaney.
“Standards have been raised across the country because of the work put in by coaches like Dave, senior international team manager Sue Ronan, our women’s development officer Gerard Dunne and his department allied with the dedicated coaches in women’s football around Ireland.
“The performances the girls have put in throughout the year were all the more impressive when you consider the numbers playing in more established countries in women’s football including the Netherlands, Spain, England and Sweden who they met this week.
“Ireland’s victories over the Spanish, England and Swedes in Norway were a tremendous achievement and all of the Irish girls should be rightly proud of how the represented their country.”
The Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Larry O’Toole (SF) said: “I am delighted to be here to welcome home the Irish Women’s Under-19 Soccer team. This team has made history by being the first ever Irish Under-19 women’s team to reach the semi-final of the UEFA European Championships.
“I heartily congratulate everyone involved in making the team’s involvement in these Championships so successful, we have all been proudly watching with keen interest and cheering them on over the last ten days. I wish them every success in their future endeavours – with this level of achievement behind them I’m sure they will go from strength to strength.”
Connell will have 12 members of his squad eligible for the next campaign and the performances of these girls will surely give women’s football around the country a massive lift.